FlaSC: Must appt special counsel in DP cases where D waives mitigation

Affirming the conviction and death sentence of Bill Paul Marquardt, the Florida Supreme Court held:

MITIGATION:  “We also reaffirm our commitment to the principles and procedures articulated in Muhammad v. State, 782 So. 2d 343 (Fla. 2001), that require a trial court to consider mitigation evidence even when the defendant waives mitigation. However, recognizing the tension that may exist when a trial court appoints standby counsel to present mitigation evidence in these circumstances, as was done in this case, we prospectively modify the Muhammad procedures to the limited extent that trial courts should utilize an independent, special counsel—rather than standby counsel—to represent the public interest in bringing forth all available mitigation for the benefit of the jury, the trial court, and this Court.”
MOTION TO SUPPRESS – COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL:  Where a Wisconsin court denied suppression of the same evidence, a Florida trial court does not err in denying a motion to suppress without an evidentiary hearing under the doctrine of collateral estoppel because Wisconsin generally provides the same constitutional search/seizure guarantees as Florida.

3DCA: VOP for Applying for DL After Agreeing to Lifetime Revocation

As part of his probation, the defendant agreed to a lifetime revocation of his drivers license and was ordered never to apply for a DL again….which he nonetheless applies for.  The primary issue at the probation violation hearing was whether the defendant, who speaks Spanish and possesses a limited understanding of the English language, was properly advised that, as a special condition of his probation, he had a lifetime driver’s license revocation and that he was never to apply for a driver’s license.  The Third District affirmed and held:
  • REJECTION OF PLEA DEAL:  The trial court did not err by rejecting a plea offer regarding the VOP where the transcripts reflect that the trial court properly considered the defendant’s prior convictions, the charges, the facts leading to those charges, the fact that the lifetime DL revocation was an important part of the defendant’s original plea deal, and the short period of time between the plea and the violation.
  • SUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE:  The evidence was sufficient to support the violation because the transcripts of the original plea colloquy revealed that the defendant was aided by an interpretter and acknowledged that he understood the special condition.
  • LEGALITY OF SENTENCE:  The trial court did not impose an illegal 15 year sentence because the sentence is not a true “split sentence” but rather a “probationary split sentence”.
Gonzalez v. State, 3D13-1872 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 21, 2015)
Miami-Dade Judge Brennan